It was in 2009 when Brian Muller first met his wife, Amie.
"We actually met at a music venue. And at the time I was playing music in a band and she had some friends there that were at the event," Muller, 45, from Woodbury, Minn., recalls in a recent interview with Fox News. "Her friends forced her to go out. I forced myself to go out and just to see some music."
He remembers how they discussed her service with the Minnesota Air National Guard.
"We ended up talking about what she does with the military," he says, "and at that time, she was doing a project to make video memorials for gold star families. Families that lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan or any type of war."
"She asked me to write a song for those videos. And that's how we kind of started our relationship, as-- friends, and then it developed from there."
Brian has never served in the military but was impressed by Amie's service -- including her two tours in Iraq.
"She wanted to fly, and she joined the Air Force. And she got deployed and had her life kind of uprooted there for a while."
Amie was stationed at the Iraqi air base in Balad during both of her tours in 2005 and 2007. While her active service was already behind her, the effects from her time on that base still lingered.
"She didn't really want to talk about her time over there," Brian says. "Anytime a door would slam or a loud noise, she'd get startled very easily. She had a lot of PTSD [episodes] from just little things."
A decade after returning from Iraq, Amie's physical health also suffered. She was diagnosed with Stage III Pancreatic Cancer.
"I still remember Amie getting the call, and she looked at me," Muller says about the day they found out about her diagnosis back in April 2016.
"We walked around the corner just to make sure the kids didn't see. I could tell by the look in her face how scared she was. And I just kind of listening in to the call. And we just started shaking.
Both she and Brian believed it was related to her exposure to open-air burn pits used to destroy trash generated on the base. Nearly every U.S. military installation in Iraq during the war used the crude method of burn pit disposal, but Balad was known for having one of the largest operations, burning nearly 150 tons of waste a day.
The smoke generated from these pits hung above Amie's barracks daily.
"She talked about the burn pits even before she got cancer," Muller recalls, "and how the fact that they would change the filters on these ventilation systems quite frequently. And every time they'd change it would just be this black soot, so thick that you would think you'd have to change it every hour."